Revolving doors in the EU and US

04-07-2018

The flow of officials and politicians between the public and private sector has in the past few years given rise to calls for more transparency and accountability. In order to mitigate the reputational damage to public institutions by problematic use of the 'revolving door', this phenomenon is increasingly being regulated at national level. In the United States, President Trump recently changed the rules put in place by his predecessor to slow the revolving door. As shown by press coverage, the US public remains unconvinced. Scepticism may be fuelled by new exceptions made to the rules – retroactive ethics pledge waivers – and the refusal of the White House to disclose the numbers or beneficiaries of said waivers. Watchdog organisations argue that not only has the Trump administration so far failed to 'drain the swamp', it has ended up doing quite the opposite. In the EU, where revolving door cases are increasingly being covered in the media, both the European Parliament and Commission have adopted Codes of Conduct, regulating the activities of current and former Members, Commissioners, and even staff. The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has on numerous occasions spoken out in favour of further measures, such as 'cooling-off periods', and has carried out several inquiries into potentially problematic revolving door cases. Following calls from Parliament, the Juncker Commission adopted a new and stronger Code of Conduct for Commissioners early in 2018. Even so, no one single Code can hope to bring an end to the debate.

The flow of officials and politicians between the public and private sector has in the past few years given rise to calls for more transparency and accountability. In order to mitigate the reputational damage to public institutions by problematic use of the 'revolving door', this phenomenon is increasingly being regulated at national level. In the United States, President Trump recently changed the rules put in place by his predecessor to slow the revolving door. As shown by press coverage, the US public remains unconvinced. Scepticism may be fuelled by new exceptions made to the rules – retroactive ethics pledge waivers – and the refusal of the White House to disclose the numbers or beneficiaries of said waivers. Watchdog organisations argue that not only has the Trump administration so far failed to 'drain the swamp', it has ended up doing quite the opposite. In the EU, where revolving door cases are increasingly being covered in the media, both the European Parliament and Commission have adopted Codes of Conduct, regulating the activities of current and former Members, Commissioners, and even staff. The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has on numerous occasions spoken out in favour of further measures, such as 'cooling-off periods', and has carried out several inquiries into potentially problematic revolving door cases. Following calls from Parliament, the Juncker Commission adopted a new and stronger Code of Conduct for Commissioners early in 2018. Even so, no one single Code can hope to bring an end to the debate.